Struggle and Sacrifices of Muslim Women: Muslims in India’s Freedom Struggle


compiled by Imtiaz Ahmed

It is estimated that about 225 Muslim women of India gave their lives in the 1857 revolt against British.

There is no dearth of books on the Indian National Movement but only passing references have been made in them about the role of Muslims. So much so that in her book entitled Women in India’s Freedom Movement Manmohan Kaur makes reference only of Begum Hazrat Mahelb and Bi-Amma out of the hundreds of Muslim women who fought the battle of freedom with their menfolk against the British.

It is pity that their role in the struggle for freedom has not been adequately presented in the national history. What is more surprising is the fact that the role and contribution of Muslim women in the war of independence and the subsequent movements have been totally ignored by the historians. Along with their counterparts they fought gallantly and suffered heavily.

ALSO READ ARTICLE: From Wahabi Movement to 1857 Revolt: Muslims in India’s Freedom Struggle

In the revolt of 1857 Asghari Begum (mother of Qazi Abdur Rahim, the revolutionary of Thana Bhawan, Muzaffarnagar) fought the British and was burnt alive when defeated. Similarly Habiba and Rahimi who obstructed the advance of English forces were caught and hanged. It is estimated that about 225 Muslim women of India gave their lives in the 1857 revolt against British.

The history of the national movement would be incomplete without mentioning the services of Abadi Begum (M/o Moulana Muhammad Ali), Amjadi Begum (W/o Moulana Muhammad Ali), Nishat-un-Nisa (Begum Hasrat Mohani), Saadat Bano Kitchlew (W/o Dr.Saifuddin Kitchlew), Begum Khurshid Khwaja (W/o A.M. Khwaja), Zuleka Begum (W/o Moulana Azad), Khadeeja Begum and Khursheed Sahiba of frontier, Mehr Taj (D/o Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan), Zubeida Begum Daoodi (W/o Shafi Daoodi, the reputed nationalist of Bihar), Kaneez Sajida Begum (Bihar), Muneera Begum (W/o Maulana Mazhar-ul-Haq), Asmat Ara Begum Sughra Khatoon (Lucknow), Amina Tyabji (W/o Abbas Tyabji), Begum Sakina Luqmani (W/o Dr. Luqmani and daughter of Badruddin Tyabji), Rehana Tyabji (D/o  Abbas Tyabji), Hamida Tyabji (grand-daughter of Shamsuddin Tyabji), Fatima Taib Ali, Safia Saad Khan; Shafaat-un-Nisa Bibi (W/o Maulana Habib-ur-Rahman Ludhiana), Kulsoom Siyani (W/o Dr. Jan Muhammad Siyani, nephew of Rahimatoola Siyani), Fatima Ismail (D/o Haji Yousuf Sobhani and sister of Umar Sobhani), Begum Sultana Hayat Ansari, Zohra Ansari etc., etc., who participated in all the political movements from partition of Bengal to the partition of India with Congress banners in their hands.

They were imprisoned, fined, lathi charged and suffered for a cause. Their life story itself is a part of the national movement which cannot be denied and obliterated.

ALSO READ ARTICLE: From Tipu Sultan to Barasat Risings: Muslims in India’s Freedom Struggle

The collected works of Gandhi speak of their magnificent contribution to India’s struggle for freedom.

Several monographs in which Santimay Ray’s Freedom Movement and Indian Muslims or P.N. Chopra’s Role of Indian Muslims in the Struggle For Freedom, Kanta Chaubey’s Muslims and Freedom Movement in India and a few regional studies like Muzaffar Imam’s Role of Muslims in the National Movement and Hasan Imam’s Indian National Movement regarding the role of Muslims have been published. But the subject is wide and needs a comprehensive study.

National Movement and the Muslims Stance

An objective study of the national movement reveals that Muslims have never been wanting in nationalist upsurge. Shoulder to shoulder they have fought with the other communities for the independence of India. No single political party could have driven the British and it was with the untiring struggle of all that the British were forced to quit. The Faraizi and the Wahhabi Movements had disturbed the pace of British Plan in the initial stages of its  expansion in India. These movements may rightly be called  the most organized struggle to oust British and fought gallantly against them. It is in this sense that they are said to be the early fighters for India’s freedom. They resisted their fresh masters, gave them a befitting reply and convinced them that their stay in India was momentary.

This article is a part of series to highlight the sacrifices of Muslims in liberating India from the British-raj.

Imtiaz Ahmed is a founding member and CEO of Illume Academy. The Academy is a youth centric learning forum, deploying all possible innovative teaching techniques in molding youth to be decisive thinkers with sound character, and effective leaders.

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